While perusing Facebook to check on Native friends, a name from Bucks County popped up frequently. I saw she was friends to many people that I knew from that lovely section of the world. And before I knew it, I became in awe.
This person evolved partially through Pebble Hill, a multidenominational church south of Doylestown, Pennsylvania. She is a spiritual leader, honoring sacred places where Native Americans suffered mind-numbing massacres. She has an active website documenting her self-guided mission: soulofcynthia.com.
Her name: Cynthia Greb. Not one word can describe her journey other than “holy.” And her journey took her into the heart of Weed, California where a raging forest fire decimated the Lincoln Heights section. Also affected was the Shastina Lake community where a close friend lived.
Cynthia survived. So did her friend who was able to evacuate with her pets, despite roads being closed. “Divine providence,” Ms. Greb reports.
On her way from Northern California to the Seattle area, Cynthia shared my apartment for rest and recovery. While spending quality time here, Ms. Greb perused part of my book’s manuscript and revealed some helpful changes I should make. She’s a natural-born editor who is able to hone into the purpose of a book.
Ten years with Alice is crucial to revealing whom I’ve become; therefore, I should no longer use the title, Confessions of a Boy Soprano. Instead, my pending tome should wear the mantle: How I Became a Lesbian (and other stories). Talk about sprinkling fairy dust. Wow!
Here I engage in written discourse with those considered to be friends and supporters. Atop the left side of my computer hutch is the same Christmas photo Alice and I mailed out in Doylestown. The red ribbon next to it graces an accurate caricature of Grandfather Many Crows (aka Ed Fell).
Ever since Alice passed over in March, I have lived alone without the benefits of what a partner offers. If it’s the wrong kind of partner, being by oneself can be a relief. But with dear Alice, it was being part of an entity that told me when I was being an asshole, and when I was living up to our aspirations.
I miss those moments.
Two and a half weeks ago, I was sitting where you see me above. I shifted my weight from the middle to the left side of my hip, encountering a sharp jab of pain, so severe I drove myself to the emergency room two nights later with worries related to past cancer surgery. Fortunately, X-rays and a CT scan showed nothing serious or suspicious, and today my Kaiser Permanente medical team is keeping on top of my problem and its expected pending cure.
Nevertheless, I am hurting until this malady is permanently treated. And I’m doing so alone.
A few words about Kaiser Permanente: If you judge quality of care by the ratio of patients to primary care doctors, you will be misled. From my experience in the Pacific Northwest, front-line doctors serve as intake experts to a damned good healthcare system. Doctors regularly interact online with a range of specialists, overseen by a cadre of behind-the-scenes physicians who check and double-check. No one slouches or goofs off at medical facilities here. This is 5-star healthcare.
I’ve experienced healthcare in South Florida; much of it is corrupt, and its healthcare workers have become sadly cynical. And up North, specifically Bucks County, Pennsylvania, while recovering from a punctured bowel in the highly regarded Doylestown Hospital, I would not have survived without a visit from a well-respected sculptor named Harry Georgeson. He singlehandedly alerted a matter-of-fact weekend nursing staff of my critical sepsis, who then came running and moved me into the ICU in minutes.
(I remind Harry on occasion that he’s responsible for keeping me around to annoy others.)
When medical people visit the Pacific Northwest, experience the majesty of its landscape and meet prospective peers, they fall in love with the place and the quality of healthcare that mirrors the glorious outdoors. My brief three-hour experience during the midnight hours in Longview, Washington’s PeaceHealth Hospital met the same high standards as Alice’s three times there, including one stay of eight days. Not one healthcare worker whom I came across showed indifference or boredom in the midst of a demanding overnight shift. Everyone was on high alert.
Despite my travails, I am still working on the book with two esteemed volunteers from Alice’s aphasia support group. But I’m also making sure my cuisine options remain plentiful, 95 percent of which I prepare myself. And having a dishwasher, washer and dryer, as well as a splendid view, keeps life personably manageable.
But getting back to this hip thing? It’s painful enough that I’m welcoming – and fearing – the thought of the long needle I would have to stare down soon. The way I feel, it can’t come soon enough.
I needed some time off to reflect on fast-moving events. And I thank everyone for honoring my period of reflection – and accomplishment.
An event occurred in June that reflects political correctness run amuck, something endemic to the West Coast. If the behavior of some well-meaning proponents of social change cannot recognize we share a common priority – a change in leadership – we could be doomed to four more years of madness.
The spirit inherent in writing a book of merit brings out my Quaker experience of reflection. In the long run, my support of the Aphasia Network shall be constant. Any complaint I have pales in importance to what appears in a book. These are the same sort of compromises our new activist generation needs to learn, or else the winds of change will fail to recognize ideals still thought dear.
I want to recognize Professor John White of Pacific University and speech therapist Jordan Horner for their kind assist in helping me determine the importance of my book’s contents. Also, former University of Oregon professor Melissa Hart oversaw my first three chapters and overall organization. I’m writing the book – finally!
How long can I keep my pedal to the metal? We’ll see.
One more thing: I miss Alice more now than ever.
The photo above reveals my left eye is half-closed, due to a burst blood vessel. Awww!
Above: On the wall behind me is an artist’s impression of a pianist tickling the ivories next to a photo of my father performing in a big band during the 1940s. I once played Mozart for Louis Armstrong.
Once upon a time, I rushed to create new posts each week on this website to increase the number of visitors it receives. The idea was to create anticipation for the book everyone is waiting for.
Well, last week some stupid shit hit the fan, and I’ve been spending a good amount of time and effort wiping it off my psyche. This spurred the realization that each consequential distraction interrupts the focused madness necessary to writing a complete book.
(You can anticipate what’s coming next, right?
Well, congratulations.) This website is going on hiatus for a little while.
Don’t be sad. If you want a further taste of who I am, peruse this website. A tribute to Danawa Buchanan can be found, a cross-country journey with a CHECK ENGINE light may humor you, and how my immigrant father emigrated here cum laude after arriving 101 years ago should comfort subsequent immigrants.
At uncertain times like these, some of the smallest chores can turn out to be huge.
Take, for instance, while arranging dinner dishes to go into the dishwasher. Earlier this week, I discovered the top cover to the butter dish was missing. With an increasing record of futility, I began to look all over the apartment. No matter how much I fretted and frantically fumed, that cover was nowhere. I systematically covered every nook and cranny in the kitchen, dining room and living room.
Now I’m invested in honoring the original purpose of this chore. Why give up now? I hurriedly climbed the stairs, wondering if I might have carried it around in one of the bedrooms or the master bath.
Storming around with increasing frustration for a full 30 minutes, I decided it might make sense to stop being stubborn. I reached up in the kitchen cabinet holding another butter dish and cover, and pulled them out to use as a substitute until doomsday.
Looking at the original butter dish, I see there’s only a dab of butter left. Regimentally, I scoop it carefully onto the substitute butter dish. Efficient, eh?
With the original butter dish in hand, I finally put it into the dishwasher next to – you guessed it – the cover!
Spend half an hour this way, and one can logically wonder if newfound freedom during a pandemic is a good thing.